A TEAM of technology visionaries has today unveiled what it believes is the most effective way to end maritime piracy, and save lives and billions of dollars each year.
The WatchStander system was originally developed for the US naval fleet but has been modified and adapted over the past two years for use by commercial vessels, cruise ships and yachts.
A significant advance in anti-pirate technology, WatchStander is a fully automated and integrated system that detects and identifies pirates before launching a series of non-lethal but highly effective counter measures.
It is currently undergoing an Audit and Performance Assessment by maritime security and operations consultants from Flag Victor.
The system has already received praise from several senior naval personnel, including Admiral Mark Fitzgerald (Ret.), former Commander of the US Naval Forces Europe and US Naval Forces Africa, who recently joined the company as a special adviser. He said:
“I’ve been aware of this type of surveillance, recognition and defense technology for some time. The fact that it can now be used to defend the world’s commercial fleets is a major leap forward in the fight against maritime piracy.
“It is a perfect example of how military innovation can crossover to deliver a very important new civil purpose. The development teams have shown the benefits to be derived from collaboration.”
The founder and driving force behind WatchStander, David Rigsby, has over thirty years’ experience working in the perimeter protection and defense industry sector. He has worked closely with his research partners at the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University to modify WatchStander for commercial use and holds an exclusive license to take it to the global commercial shipping market. Rigsby said: “The answer to piracy has been eagerly awaited the maritime industry. The strategies being used at present are piecemeal, uncoordinated, cumbersome or hugely expensive. The focus has generally been on either sensors or countermeasures with little or no effective integration of the two, until now.
“This one-off technological installation prevents pirates getting on board ships and will change the course of maritime history.
“Any vessel fitted with WatchStander will be far more secure from pirate attack. Quite simply, WatchStander will save lives, cargo, vessels and very significant amounts of money.
“When you consider that 95 per cent of goods and commodities are transported around the world by ship, it is imperative we end the scourge of maritime piracy once and for all.”
Ron E Lichtman, Co-founder and Executive Vice President of Marketing & Sales, adds: “Although WatchStander can be an extremely useful tool for armed security guards, it is a fully automated system that defends vessels without the need for human intervention.
“We expect ship owners, captains, private security companies and the insurance industry to welcome WatchStander with open arms.
“In fact, we believe the installation of WatchStander could become a standard requirement of underwriters over the next few years as it will have such a dramatic effect on reducing risk.”
WatchStander can be quickly installed on vessels of all sizes and provides a legal and non-lethal answer to the growing problem of violent attacks on ships and their crews. The system works by accurately identifying pirate craft at long range and launching an automatic and unmanned defence at several miles range that becomes progressively more robust if the attacker fails to withdraw.
Tests have shown WatchStander to be accurate and reliable in identifying pirate craft and distinguishing them from other non-threatening vessels. A series of successful on-water demonstrations showing WatchStander at work in real life simulations has recently taken place in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. These were conducted under scrutiny by independent observers from the commercial shipping industry, prominent US governmental officials and representatives of The Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University which has a long and established partnership with the US Navy on the development of defense related technologies.